Endpaper by Sheila Markham
'London is a muddle', wrote E.M. Forster in 1937, which must have annoyed Phyllis Pearsall enormously. She had just covered 3,000 miles in foot, walking for eighteen hours a day to collect information on Londoan's 23,000 streets for the first edition of the "London A-Z". Published in 1936 the street atlas, which became ahousehold name, was devised, printed and distributed by Phyllis Pearsall who founded the Geographers' A-Z Map Company in her bedsitter in Horseferry Road. She died at the age of 89 in August, 1996. Although Phyllis remained actively involved in this lucrative publishing venture throughout her life, she never regarded commercial success as more than a means to finance her real vocation. The street atlases simply allowed her to write and paint 'for joy, not money'. How many writers and painters spend all day on one-way systems and bus lanes and still find the time and energy to be creative? We know E.M. Forster found London a muddle. In this respect he might have benefitted from an honest day's work at the Geoagraphers' A-Z Map Company. But what of his writing? Eight hours a day on double yellow lines, and he might have come home to find that the Muses had been towed away or at the very least clamped.
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